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Transportation & Public Works Legislative Update – Session Final

The Washington State Legislature completed its 60-day session with no expectation of a special session for unresolved issues.  At the conclusion of the session, several legislators announced plans to not seek reelection.  The chair of the House Transportation Committee, Judy Clibborn, announced that she would not be running again.  Rep. Clibborn has been a great transportation advocate and willing to work with counties on transportation issues and she will be missed.  Vice Chair, Jake Fey, will likely move up to chair.

The 2018 supplemental transportation budget increases biennial spending by $85 million, with over $600 million in increased project funding.  Local Programs was allotted $71.3 million in additional funding for local projects.  Detailed lists of funded projects can be found here.

A few highlights in the transportation budget include:

  • Funding for ultra high-speed rail (250 MPH, or more) was increased by $1.2 million to conduct a business-case analysis. The transportation budget previously provided $300,000 to prepare cost-benefit study for a route from British Columbia to Oregon.  The budget also includes an advisory group made up of legislators, state agencies, and public and private stakeholders.
  • $600,000 in funding to develop RFPs for converting three Washington State ferries to hybrid electric propulsion including terminal improvements.
  • $350,000 in funding to support SSB 5806 which establishes a new process to replace the I-5 Columbia River Bridge involving both Washington and Oregon legislatures.
  • Funding to expand the Department of Licensing’s enhanced drivers license. The budget provides $28 million in funding and adds 123 FTEs to handle the surge as drivers upgrade licenses due to federal travel requirements.
  • Slight increases in funding for CRAB, TIB, and FMSIB to allow spending of available revenues.
  • Changes to the aviation program including establishment of a electric aircraft work group to look at commercial application of electric or hybrid-electric aircraft for air travel.

Overall, there were few transportation/public works bills that passed the 2018 legislature.  Following is a list of bills of interest to counties:

  • SB 6414, regarding public transportation benefit areas, changes the representation for the governing board for PTBAs in Spokane, Pierce, and Clark counties to be proportional to population.
  • E2SSB 6529, establishes a work group to look at pesticide safety. The workgroup is composed of legislators and agencies. In addition to the members, the University of Washington Latino Center for Health, the Washington State University, and other experts and technical advisors may be invited by the secretary of DOH or the director of Washington state department of agriculture.
  • ESB 5288, allows the public transportation benefit area in Thurston County (Intercity Transit) to ask voters to increase the sales tax up to 1.2% from .9%.
  • E2SHB 1637, requires new contractors to go through training on prevailing wage requirements to be qualified to bid on public contracts. Contractors who have completed three projects and have a valid state business license for three years are exempt.
  • HB 2807, expands the current emergency zone rules of the road and associated offenses related to the use of lanes, speed restrictions, and reckless endangerment to include work zones. The bill adds construction vehicles, maintenance vehicles, and solid waste vehicles with appropriate flashing lights to list of vehicles where drivers must move over, when possible, to another lane.

A complete list of passed and dead bills from the biennium can be found here.